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Published: June 12, 2008 11:34 pm  

HS TRACK AND FIELD: Helman aims higher for Grand Island

By Nate Beutel

GRAND ISLAND — Adam Helman has gotten so good at the pole vault that he’s costing the Grand Island track and field program thousands of dollars. But make no mistake — he’s not apologizing. And believe it or not, his coach is not complaining, either.

“We’ve had to buy all new poles because he keeps going higher,” veteran GI coach Don Sauer said. “But that’s a good thing. We’ll do anything we can to try to help him be successful.”

Whatever they’ve been doing seems to be working as the junior won the Section VI Division I championship last weekend at Jamestown’s Strider Field.

Just a few years back, though, Helman had aspirations of being a standout on the diamond, not the track. But after making his way over to the track following a few of his modified baseball games to watch his brother, Justin, compete in the pole vault, he became hooked.

“It looked really fun,” the younger Helman recalled. “It also looked kind of scary, but the type of scary that includes high adrenaline.”

So, Helman switched over to track and field during his freshman year and immediately gravitated to the pole vault. After making steady improvements his first two years, Helman wanted to make that next step to the top of Section VI this spring.

To do so, he enlisted the help of renowned pole vault guru Mike Auble of Warsaw during indoor track this past winter. Since then, Helman has made the more than one-hour drive three times a week to get one-on-one instruction from Auble and work with other esteemed pole vaulters at his club. And it seems to have paid off, as he’s established a new school record of 15 feet, 1 inch to go along with his Niagara Frontier League and Section VI titles.

“Individually, he’s gone undefeated this year and I think a big part of that is that he’s a bear and he works so hard at what he does,” Sauer said.

Now with the state meet set for today at the University at Buffalo, Helman has his sights set on keeping his record unblemished and hopefully qualifying for the Nike Outdoor Nationals next week in Greensboro, N.C. To qualify, a competitor must vault 15-6 3/4, according to Helman.

“I know I have the tools to do it, it’s just a matter of doing it (Friday),” Helman said.

Sauer agreed.

“A lot in this sport has to do with weather conditions and who best adjusts to it, but Adam is a competitor and his preparation is second to none,” the coach said. “His confidence is high and I’m confident in him.”